Fernandinho: The new boy from Brazil

Fernandinho claims to have taken a pay cut to join Manchester City. So what is the attraction? Steve Tongue finds out

It all began at Newcastle United, with a team that had finished 17th in the top flight the previous season. The Brazilian they proudly paraded in the summer of 1987 as the first from that exotic country to join an English club may not have been a Socrates or a Zico, but the gawky little striker called Mirandinha was a trailblazer.

His credentials included having scored for Brazil against England at Wembley in May of that year and he lasted two seasons at Newcastle, scoring 20 goals before falling out with the manager, Jim Smith, as United were relegated in bottom position.

It would be another eight years before their local rivals Middlesbrough stunned football by signing a genuine talent and authentic Brazilian in Juninho for the first of three spells with the club, and although the list of his compatriots braving the British weather since then has grown, it has tended to feature a certain type of player: not many strikers, few genuinely creative midfield players in the Juninho mould – until Chelsea signed Oscar last year – but plenty of defenders and fewer attacking midfielders, nevertheless perceived to have the skill-set associated with the beaches on which they are all assumed to have learnt the game.

Manchester City found that Robinho, having cost a British-record fee at the time of £32.5 million, did not fit in, which has not deterred them from paying almost as much for a different sort of Brazilian. Fernandinho has spent the last eight seasons with Shakhtar Donetsk, which is in itself testimony to an ability to survive in a different culture and play at a high level. Last season in the Champions' League he made more tackles and interceptions than any other Shakhtar player and in the 3-1 defeat by Arsenal in last weekend's friendly an affronted Jack Wilshere was among those left on the floor by the force of his challenges.

Speaking through an interpreter while learning a fifth language to add to Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Italian, he said: "I feel well suited to the game that is played in the Premier League. I know that many Brazilians haven't been well thought of in England because of the different style of play here. I want to change the perception that people have over here about the way that Brazilians play.

From what I understand, English teams are fearful about signing players straight from Brazil. This is because of the different style of play and the different culture, and the belief that maybe Brazilians are not well suited to the Premier League. Maybe there is some truth in that. Perhaps England does have a unique football style that Brazilians struggle to understand."

The point about players coming straight from Rio or Sao Paulo is a valid one; eight seasons in European football should prove invaluable and has at least offered abundant time for scouts to do due diligence. They could have learnt plenty without venturing further than London: Fernandinho was outstanding in the Champions' League against Chelsea last season and has also scored against Spurs at White Hart Lane. "I know there were negotiations between Shakhtar and Chelsea," he said. "Shakhtar told me they had refused an offer. There was also a stage a year ago when I spoke to people from Tottenham, but nothing came of that."

He is clear too on one of the main virtues demanded in England: "I think one of my biggest qualities is my consistency. I believe my performances do not go up and down to any great extent. I don't have a fantastic game one week and a bad game the next. What I offer is more balanced, I tend to play at the same level."

In a season that will end with a World Cup in Brazil, he needs that level to be sufficiently high to demand the attention of the national manager, Luiz Felipe Scolari. Of the player's five international appearances, four came two years ago.

"I decided that I had to leave Ukraine to play in a strong league that would help me get the attention of the people in charge of the Brazilian national team. I will try to do my best because it would be great to play in the World Cup, especially at home."

Difficult as it may be to believe of a player joining City, he is understood to have taken a cut in salary. "Why should people be surprised by that?" he asked. "Maybe England should have more players who don't only think of money. If I only wanted money and a comfortable life from my career, I would have stayed in the Ukraine. I was happy there, I won six titles, I knew everyone and I was a big part of the club. But I was presented with the challenge of coming to Manchester City and I am aware that over the last few years this is a project that has grown a lot. The owners and the people who are managing the team wants to win titles and big trophies – and I wanted to be a part of that.

"Of course, I will be paid as a professional footballer, but the only thing I am greedy for is success. In my country we say that football is like a huge plate of food – well I want to eat everything."

Premier Brazilians...

Anderson Man United

Philippe Coutinho Liverpool

Fernandinho Man City

Fabio da Silva Man United

Heurelho Gomes Tottenham

Lucas Leiva Liverpool

David Luiz Chelsea

Guilherme do Prado Southampton

Lucas Piazón Chelsea

Paulinho Tottenham

Oscar Chelsea

Ramires Chelsea

Rafael da Silva Man United

Sandro Tottenham

... Brazilian old boys

Alex Chelsea 2007-12

Julio Baptista Arsenal 2006-07

Geovanni Man City, Hull City, 2007-10

Gilberto Silva Arsenal 2002-08

Juninho Middlesbrough 1995-97, 1999-00, 2002-04

Robinho Man City 2008-10

Roque Junior Leeds 2003-04

Kleberson Man United 2003-05

Andre Santos Arsenal 2011-12

Emerson Thome Sheff Wed, Chelsea, Sunderland, Bolton, Wigan 1997-06

Manchester City v Newcastle is on Sky Sports 1 tomorrow night, kick-off 8pm

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam